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When Scientists "Discover" What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries | Science | Smithsonian
"Our knowledge of what animals do when humans aren’t around has steadily increased over the last 50 years. For example, we know now that animals use tools in their daily lives. Chimps use twigs to fish for termites; sea otters break open shellfish on rocks they selected; octopi carry coconut shell halves to later use as shelters. But the latest discovery has taken this assessment to new heights—literally.

A team of researchers led by Mark Bonta and Robert Gosford in northern Australia has documented kites and falcons, colloquially termed “firehawks,” intentionally carrying burning sticks to spread fire. While it has long been known that birds will take advantage of natural fires that cause insects, rodents and reptiles to flee and thus increase feeding opportunities, that they would intercede to spread fire to unburned locales is astounding.

It’s thus no surprise that this study has attracted great attention as it adds intentionality and planning to the repertoire of non-human use of tools. Previous accounts of avian use of fire have been dismissed or at least viewed with some skepticism.

But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. Unlike most scientific studies, Bonta and Gosford’s team foregrounded their research in traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also note that local awareness of the behavior of the firehawks is ingrained within some of their ceremonial practices, beliefs and creation accounts.

The worldwide attention given to the firehawks article provides an opportunity to explore the double standard that exists concerning the acceptance of Traditional Knowledge by practitioners of Western science.

Traditional Knowledge ranges from medicinal properties of plants and insights into the value of biological diversity to caribou migration patterns and the effects of intentional burning of the landscape to manage particular resources. Today, it’s become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnobotanists, climatologists and others. For example, some climatology studies have incorporated Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) to explain changes in sea ice conditions observed over many generations.

Yet despite the wide acknowledgement of their demonstrated value, many scientists continue to have had an uneasy alliance with Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous oral histories.

On the one hand, these types of knowledge are valued when they support or supplements archaeological, or other scientific evidence. But when the situation is reversed—when Traditional Knowledge is seen to challenge scientific “truths —then its utility is questioned or dismissed as myth. Science is promoted as objective, quantifiable, and the foundation for “real” knowledge creation or evaluation while Traditional Knowledge may be seen as anecdotal, imprecise and unfamiliar in form.

Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world, past and present?

Ways of Knowing

There are many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

For instance, in the past two decades, archaeologists and environmental scientists working in coastal British Columbia have come to recognize evidence of mariculture—the intentional management of marine resources—that pre-dates European settlement. Over the course of thousands of years, the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other Indigenous groups there created and maintained what have become known as “clam gardens”—rock-walled, terrace-like constructions that provide ideal habit for butter clams and other edible shellfish.

To the Kwakwaka’wakw, these were known as loxiwey, according to Clan Chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) who has shared this term and his knowledge of the practice with researchers. As marine ecologist Amy Groesbeck and colleagues have demonstrated, these structures increase shellfish productivity and resource security significantly. This resource management strategy reflects a sophisticated body of ecological understanding and practice that predates modern management systems by millennia.

These published research studies now prove that Indigenous communities knew about mariculture for generations—but Western scientists never asked them about it before. Once tangible remains were detected, it was clear mariculture management was in use for thousands of years. There is a move underway by various Indigenous communities in the region to restore and recreate clam gardens and put them back into use.

A second example demonstrates how Indigenous oral histories correct inaccurate or incomplete historical accounts. There are significant differences between Lakota and Cheyenne accounts of what transpired at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in 1876, and the historical accounts that appeared soon after the battle by white commentators.

The Lakota and Cheyenne can be considered more objective than white accounts of the battle that are tainted by Eurocentric bias. The ledger drawings of Red Horse, a Minneconjou Sioux participant in the battle, record precise details such as trooper’s uniforms, the location of wounds on horses, and the distribution of Indian and white casualties.

In 1984, a fire at the battleground revealed military artifacts and human remains that prompted archaeological excavations. What this work revealed was a new, more accurate history of the battle that validated many elements of the Native American oral histories and accompanying pictographs and drawings of the events. However, without the archaeological evidence, many historians gave limited credence to the accounts obtained from the participating Native American warriors.

Hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights. The travels of Glooscap, a major figure in Abenaki oral history and worldview, are found throughout the Mi’kmaw homeland of the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. As a Transformer, Glooscap created many landscape features. Anthropologist Trudy Sable (Saint Mary’s University) has noted a significant degree of correlation between places named in Mi’kmaw legends and oral histories and recorded archaeological sites.

Opportunities at the Intersection

As ways of knowing, Western and Indigenous Knowledge share several important and fundamental attributes. Both are constantly verified through repetition and verification, inference and prediction, empirical observations and recognition of pattern events.

While some actions leave no physical evidence (e.g. clam cultivation), and some experiments can’t be replicated (e.g. cold fusion), in the case of Indigenous knowledge, the absence of “empirical evidence” can be damning in terms of wider acceptance.

Some types of Indigenous knowledge, however, simply fall outside the realm of prior Western understanding. In contrast to Western knowledge, which tends to be text-based, reductionist, hierarchical and dependent on categorization (putting things into categories), Indigenous science does not strive for a universal set of explanations but is particularistic in orientation and often contextual. This can be a boon to Western science: hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights.

There are partnerships developing worldwide with Indigenous knowledge holders and Western scientists working together. This includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge informing government policies on resource management in some instances. But it is nonetheless problematic when their knowledge, which has been dismissed for so long by so many, becomes a valuable data set or used selectively by academics and others.

To return to the firehawks example, one way to look at this is that the scientists confirmed what the Indigenous peoples have long known about the birds’ use of fire. Or we can say that the Western scientists finally caught up with Traditional Knowledge after several thousand years."

[See also:
"How Western science is finally catching up to Indigenous knowledge: Traditional knowledge has become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others"
http://www.macleans.ca/society/how-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-indigenous-knowledge/

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge"
https://theconversation.com/its-taken-thousands-of-years-but-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-traditional-knowledge-90291 ]
science  indigenous  knowledge  archaeology  ecology  biology  climatology  climate  animals  nature  amygroesbeck  research  clams  butterclams  birds  morethanhuman  multispecies  knowing  scientism  anthropology  categorization  hierarchy  hawks  firehawks  fire  landscape  place  nativeamericans  eurocentricity  battleofgreasygrass  littlebighorn  adamdick  kwaxsistalla  clamgardens  shellfish  stewardship  inuit  australia  us  canada  markbonta  robertgosford  kites  falcons  trudysable  placenames  oralhistory  oralhistories  history  mariculture 
february 2018 by robertogreco
So what if we’re doomed? (Down the Dark Mountain) — High Country News
" Kingsnorth embraced Jeffers’ inhumanism, and Tompkins his ideas on beauty. But the immensity of the ecocide demands more. Our grief comes from the takers and their modern machine, which is one of violence and injury. If our sanity is to survive the ecocide, we must address these two pains in tandem: grief for the loss of things to come and the injustices that surround us.

We can do this through beauty and justice, which are closer together than they first appear."



"However, he is also arguing for integrity, which is close to Jeffers’ ideal of beauty: “However ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand / Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history ... for contemplation or in fact ... / Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is / Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe.”

Perhaps, then, the way through the ecocide is through the pursuit of integrity, a duty toward rebalancing the whole, toward fairness, in both senses of the word."



"This is no cause for despair; it is a reminder to be meaningful, to be makers instead of takers, to be of service to something — beauty, justice, loved ones, strangers, lilacs, worms."
apocalypse  climatechange  ecology  anthropocene  additivism  2017  briancalvert  paulkingsnorth  environment  environmentalism  california  poetry  justive  beauty  via:kissane  balance  earth  wholeness  integrity  robinsonjeffers  darkmountain  multispecies  posthumanism  morethanhuman  josephcampbell  ecocide  edricketts  davidbrower  sierraclub  johnstainbeck  anseladmas  outdoors  nature  humanity  humanism  edwardabbey  hawks  animals  wildlife  interconnected  inhumanism  elainescarry  community  communities  socialjustice  culture  chile  forests  refugees  violence  douglastompkins  nickbowers  shaunamurray  ta-nehisicoates  humanrights  qigong  interconnectivity 
february 2018 by robertogreco
David Fickling on Twitter: "Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey https://t.co/puU5u0y38I Cool story bro, but ine of the most i… https://t.co/xXHcEJZZh6"
"Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey ªªhttp://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700?journalCode=etbi ºº

Cool story bro, but ine of the most interesting angles was totally missed in many reports:

Indigenous people have known about this behaviour since way, way back. It's "often represented in sacred ceremonies", per the article

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/
[image of text]

Three guesses how Australian officialdom deals with real-world information that Aboriginal people have known for generations and observe all the time... 🙄🙄
[image of text]

I can think of another -ism that doesn't start with "skeptic" in this instance...

Australians still vastly underestimate how intensively Aboriginal people cultivated the landscape through fire agriculture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGO2GbLRWcQ

One other thing: Cooperative hunting with dolphins was also quite common among Aboriginal people in eastern Australia: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279302786992694?journalCode=rfan20

I wish people would more often call this applied knowledge what it is: "technology" https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/technology [image of text]

BTW the paper abstract starts "We document Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and non-Indigenous observations..." so it's hard to argue this angle is a minor element of the research

The theme of the paper is literally "we should pay more attention to Indigenous knowledge" but somehow in translation it's become "LOL hawks are mad"

BTW here's a non-journalwalled summary of the research themes: https://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2015/11/08/ornithogenic-fire-raptors-as-propagators-of-fire-in-the-australian-savanna/ "

[via "This behavior is fascinating and the thread that follows on both Aboriginal technology and colonialist racism is important."
https://twitter.com/Dymaxion/status/951172611391795200

via "cc: @rogre And now, for the rest of the story..."
https://twitter.com/symptomatic/status/951198470848819205 ]
animals  multispecies  moethanhuman  aborigines  davidfickling  via:sympotomatic  australia  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  technology  racism  colonialism  ecology  indigeneity  knowledge  erasure  indigenousknowledge  hawks  fire  landscape  dolphins 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Hatsuyume - Wikipedia
"Hatsuyume (初夢) is the Japanese word for the first dream had in the new year. Traditionally, the contents of the dream would foretell the luck of the dreamer in the ensuing year. In Japan, the night of December 31 was often passed without sleeping, thus the hatsuyume was often the dream seen the night of January 1. This explains why January 2 (the day after the night of the "first dream") is known as Hatsuyume in the traditional Japanese calendar.

It is considered to be particularly good luck to dream of Mount Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant. This belief has been in place since the early Edo period but there are various theories regarding the origins as to why this particular combination was considered to be auspicious. One theory suggests that this combination is lucky because Mount Fuji is Japan's highest mountain, the hawk is a clever and strong bird, and the word for eggplant (nasu or nasubi 茄子) suggests achieving something great (nasu 成す). Another theory suggests that this combination arose because Mount Fuji, falconry, and early eggplants were favorites of the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Although this superstition is well known in Japan, often memorized in the form Ichi-Fuji, Ni-Taka, San-Nasubi (一富士、二鷹、三茄子; 1. Fuji, 2. Hawk, 3. Eggplant), the continuation of the list is not as well known. The continuation is Yon-Sen, Go-Tabako, Roku-Zatō (四扇、五煙草、六座頭; 4. Fan, 5. Tobacco, 6. Blind acupressurer). The origins of this trio are less well known, and it is unclear whether they were added after the original three or whether the list of six originated at the same time."

[via: "TILT: hatsuyume, the first dream of the new year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatsuyume ("It is ... particularly good luck to dream of ... an eggplant")"
https://twitter.com/emckean/status/673941561453903872

responded: "🎉😴💭🍆➡️🍀 "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/674090080315674624 ]
hatsuyume  japan  dreams  dreaming  eggplants  newyear  hawks  mountfuji 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How Training a Wild Hawk Healed One Woman's Broken Heart
"Helen Macdonald was at home in Cambridge, England, when she got a phone call saying her father, Alisdair, had died suddenly of a heart attack on a London street. The news shattered her world, propelling her into a vortex of raw grief.

As she struggled to come to terms with her father's loss, she began to have dreams about goshawks, the wildest, most temperamental of the hawk family. An experienced falconer since childhood, she decided to buy and train one. Her memoir of that experience, H Is for Hawk, must be one of the most riveting encounters between a human being and an animal ever written. 

Talking from her home near Newmarket, England, Macdonald describes why Hermann Göring loved hawks, what links the Turkish word for penis with a hawk's ideal flying weight, and how training a goshawk took her to the edge of madness but eventually gave her peace—and a new kinship with other people."





"All my falconry books said they're very sulky and infuriating, never behave well, never do what you want them to do. They'll just ignore you and fly off. And the more I read about this, the more it seemed that the writers were talking about hormonal women. It was never the falconer's fault that the bird had flown off. It was always something indescribable inside the hawk that had made them do that.

But I started looking at very old falconry books, ones written in the 17th century, and discovered that goshawks were perceived very differently then. They were seen as creatures you had to court. You had to be very patient and treat them right to make them love you. I thought that was very interesting. It was a window onto gender relations, not just goshawks. "



"I started writing a journal after my father died. I was trying to stitch the world back together. I didn't know who I was any longer or what the world was about. Writing was a way of trying to make it come back. And then that world had a hawk in it. So I did keep a diary. I also kept a hawking notebook, which was very technical. Lists of weights and weather, and things like that. In the end, I didn't really use them very much for writing the book. I remember all that year with astonishing clarity. It's all very present still."



"Part of the reason for writing the book was to uncover that dark history and say, We use animals as excuses. We say, Hawks are powerful and prey on things weaker than themselves. But that's not an excuse for humans to do the same thing. The big lesson of the book is that the natural world is full of minds that are not like our own."
helenmacdonald  2015  interviews  books  hawks  birds  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  hermanngöring  alisdairmacdonald  falconry  goshawk  thwhite  hawking  lists  writing  howwewrite  whywewrite  grief  death  relationships 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hawk vs. Drone! (Hawk Attacks Quadcopter) - YouTube
"On Oct 8th, I was flying my quadcopter at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, MA when a hawk decided he wasn't too happy with my invasion of his airspace..."

[previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:3d64ec04d135 ]
birds  nature  quadcopters  drones  animals  hawks  cameras  2014  video 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Falcons, hawks ward off gulls at Santa Monica's Water Garden - Los Angeles Times
"After birds became a nuisance by littering the office campus with droppings and bones, a company brought in its avian predators. But it's their fierce appearance, not their talons, that keeps the site gull-free."
wildlife  2011  santamonica  pests  seagulls  hawks  birds 
january 2012 by robertogreco

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